Rumors of financial collapse have continued to dog Lotus, but the team’s owner, Gerard Lopez, has tried to quash them in an interview with German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
While admitting that the investment deal with the Quantum Motorsport group was now cancelled as its money never showed up, Lopez (pictured, right, with team principal Eric Boullier) said that the team’s 2014 budget was in place thanks to the large backing of Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, which came along with Pastor Maldonado to the team upon his signing.
He also revealed that former team driver Kimi Raikkonen, now back at Ferrari, has been “partly paid” for his services and that “he will get the rest” eventually.
During last season, the former World Champion revealed that he had not received his salary and went as far to hint that he might walk out on the team; he wound up missing the last two races of 2013 but for the reason of undergoing back surgery.
As for Lotus’ absence from the upcoming preseason test at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Lopez insisted that the team was satisfied with the ongoing development of the E22 chassis and that being away from Jerez wouldn’t give its competition an advantage with the new V-6 turbo engines set to debut this year.
“There is also Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham testing [the Renault engine], and the findings will also benefit us,” Lopez said to the German publication. “Any changes Renault makes before the Bahrain test will also be in our car…The first real test is in Bahrain. Before that, we can find more laptime in the factory.”
On that note, Lopez confirmed “we have the Renault engine” but put the lack of an official engine announcement down to complications with negotiations involving Lotus and Renault’s other F1 projects.
“…Lotus is not just a customer of Renault,” he said. “Our engineers for example have helped develop the KERS. So we have tried to agree that it is more than just an engine deal, which has delayed the negotiations somewhat.”
You’d certainly like to think that Lopez’s confirmation of a 2014 budget would ease some of the concerns surrounding his team. But between skipping Jerez and no official word on an engine (at least, for now), the chatter surrounding the future of Lotus likely will continue on through the preseason.